Solidarity… a little TOO solid mayhap.

March 9th, 2010

I was at the Stop and Shop on Harvard St. last friday during lunch hour; just slouching around the store looking at yogurt and soda and postponing my return to work, when I noticed a ruckus in the front of the store. Well, more of a hubbub. A bunch of employees were clustered around a dude walking a bike into the store, helmet on head. I figured they were giving him ish about bringing his bike into the store (he clearly had a lock), and so I didn’t have an opinion on the situation either way; I did wander over to observe, because I’m just a naturally curious person. When I got closer I realized this biker (mild mannered helmet wearer with cargo-ready hybrid) was visibly upset – he had entered the store chasing after a man that had knocked him to the ground as he entered the parking lot on his bicycle. Just body-slammed him, out of nowhere.

This is the point at which I get a little steamed.

As I am questioning (to myself, I’m still just an observer) why someone would just knock a biker over in a Stop and Shop parking lot, and what Mr. Mild Mannered Biker did to deserve it, the group of us finally overtake Mr. Shove. The group confronts him and Mr. Mild Manners recounts the incident in the lot, with a query as to what brought that on. Mr. Shove barks something that sounds very much like what a cop would say when confronted, but it’s not intelligible enough for me to remember. Not really complete sentences. He may be disturbed, or he may not have had his coffee yet… but either way it’s clear that this guy has a problem; he’s a bully and a jerk, and he is STILL making threatening gestures. At this point I think , “ok here’s where Mr. Mild calls the police and reports him.. maybe gets him arrested”. But no! Mr. Mild Mannered backs down and takes his bike outside, riding away.

This is where I kind of freak out, because I feel that this is EXACTLY the kind of behavior (by cyclists) that allows us to be such easy victims of other people’s belligerence and frustration. I am feeling the flame of bikey solidarity boiling up in me, and I am pissed.

So I followed Mr. Shove outside and set my phone to take his picture. He noticed me doing this and barks “You take my picture and I’ll break that camera!”

So I took his picture, and I barked right back, “He should have called the police and had you arrested.”

Arf arf arf!

In retrospect, I question the prudence of this. Sure, I was in a public place with access to immediate assistance if he’d done something, but this guy was clearly not quite right in the head. And ALSO… this wasn’t my fight. Just because Mr. Mild Mannered was on a bike doesn’t mean he and I are part of some exclusive gang; I didn’t know him from Adam. But then again… I would likely have done the same thing even if he WASN’T on a bike.. the bike is just what attracted me in the first place. It’s easy to back someone up if you have some immediately recognizable kinship to them. Sometimes we identify with people because they are the same age group, or they wear similar clothing (all it takes is someone sporting a Death’s Head motif), but what if we all had this immediate ‘tend and befriend’ reaction to someone in distress, despite the lack of social indentifier? I’d like to see that happen, in myself and with the community.

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